Garfield county petre building

Garfield County office space leased to three local nonprofits

Veterans programs and Casa of the Ninth open new offices

October 13, 2017

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Three local nonprofits that serve Garfield County residents will now operate from a county-owned building next to the Garfield County Administration Building in Glenwood Springs. The Western Slope Veterans Coalition, Garfield County Veterans Services, and CASA of the Ninth will occupy more than 600 square feet of office space at 803 Colorado Ave., for a combined rent of $2.

The Western Slope Veterans Coalition and CASA will pay $1 apiece for the coming year and may retain the office on a month-to-month basis thereafter under the lease agreements, which were approved by the Board of County Commissioners on Monday. Veterans Services will not pay for its space in the building.

Garfield County Veterans Services Officer Greg Bak was thankful for the needed office space, which offers a more private setting for veterans to conduct business. Bak, a U.S. Navy veteran, took the helm at Veterans Services on Jan. 1.

“Thank you all, the county in general and the Board of County Commissioners in particular, for giving me the privilege of serving our veterans in this county,” he said. “I’d like you to know that I feel I’ve worked with over 100 veterans so far. Everything from trudging to the back of their pick-up truck where they’re living, to having them come to my office. It’s been a great eye-opener for me. This office in Glenwood is going to enable me to help veterans on this side of the county even more.”

Garfield County Veterans Services will be posted in an 86-square feet office space in the Glenwood Springs location. Bak also has a desk in the Garfield County Health and Human Services lobby to meet with veterans in Rifle at 195 West 14th Street, Building B.

He said the Glenwood Springs office space offers more confidentiality for veterans seeking assistance. He added that the office will be shared with a psychologist from the Grand Junction Vet Center.

“It’s a team effort, and I’m really proud to be a part of this team,” Bak said.

A resource center for veterans

John Pettit of the Western Slope Veterans Coalition told the commissioners that the new office will function as a resource center, providing guidance and assistance to help veterans and their families. He stressed that it’s a place where veterans can feel safe.

“You cannot exorcise the demons of war,” said Pettit, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, welling with emotion. “With that being said, we need to learn to manage these demons and understand the triggers that cause us to do things that are not productive.”

The Western Slope Veterans Coalition will occupy 392 square feet of space at 803 Colorado Ave. as well.

“I want this space to be a reminder that seven-tenths of one percent of the population of this country are either in the military, the reserves, National Guard, or they’re veterans,” Pettit continued. “Just seven-tenths of 320 million people.”

In a moment of levity, Pettit presented a $1 bill, showing earnest in getting the resource center up and running as quickly as possible.

“I think this is a good move,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “I think everyone is our county will be pleased with our actions today and what we have done and will continue to do for the veterans. A big thank you to them for the freedoms we have in the world today.”

“That section of the building has not been in use since the ownership transferred,” Commissioner John Martin added. “So we have invested in this spot for veterans and their services.”

Garfield County acquired the building in a land swap with Valley View Hospital in 2013.

The commissioners approved the leases unanimously. Both veterans groups are hosting a grand opening on Nov. 10, which is the Marine Corps birthday.

A home for CASA

Sharing the office space in the county building is CASA of the Ninth, which works with abused and neglected children in the 9th Judicial District. CASA serves families over a 7,000-square-mile area, with a goal to “support safe, permanent, nurturing homes for every child it serves.”

“We are court-appointed special advocates,” said Mary Rippy, of CASA. “We drive all over to serve these kids that don’t have a voice in our courts.” CASA will take over 158 square-feet of office space at 803 Colorado Ave.

“Without CASA, the child’s voice is somewhat absent from court proceedings,” Rippy said. “So, on behalf of abused and neglected kids and our staff of the 9th Judicial District, we thank you guys for this office space and the opportunity to be in a central location that is really going to make our work more seamless and more effective.”

She added that an open house is scheduled for Nov. 10, coinciding with the veterans groups’ grand opening, to meet with the community and show exactly what they do to help at-risk children.

The BOCC approved the lease, 3-0.